On September 1, SV Island Time left the Intracoastal Waterway in Norfolk, Virginia and crossed Hampton Roads to begin six weeks of exploring the Chesapeake Bay.
Norfolk is home to the Norfolk Naval Station, the largest in the world. You can imagine the restricted zones in the waterway because of the naval fleet here. Battleships, other Navy vessels, cargo ships, tugs and barges, tour boats and a variety of personal craft share this narrow waterway that features the James River, the Hampton River, the mouth of Chesapeake Bay and open water to the Atlantic Ocean. As a rule, naval vessels have a 500 yard clearance and naval police are on hand to enforce it. It was exciting to weave our way through the chaos and avoid all the no-go zones.
Our first stop was across Hampton Roads at Hampton, Virginia. We spent a few days visiting the shops, watching football (our first TV in a while), eating pizza and drinking beer.
From there, we gunk-holed our way into the Chesapeake Bay to the Potomac River, which would take us 90 miles upstream to Washington, DC. We stopped halfway up the river at Colonial Beach, a lovely town with a cute waterfront boardwalk and fishing pier. The folks at the Boathouse Marina were friendly and generous with the free golf cart for exploring the town. From here, we watched Hurricane Irma hit the British Virgin Islands, the US Virgin Islands and the Florida Keys. <sad face>
Farther up the Potomac, we passed Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington.
In Washington, DC, we stayed at the Gangplank Marina on the waterfront. We visited museums, memorials and monuments for three full days.
It was Scott’s first visit to the Library of Congress, a beautiful building with a terrific exhibit on World War I.
While we weren’t able to get tickets to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, we were touched significantly by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Both the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial and Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial were terrific tributes to the lives and legacies of two men who have helped shaped this country. We recommend that you take the time to see these museums and memorials when you visit Washington, D.C.
After traveling 90 miles back down the Potomac, we visited Solomons Island, Maryland. The Zahniser’s Marina was fabulous and provided loaner bikes for exploring. We hit the Tiki Bar (right!?!) and rode all over town. As luck would have it, we were there for their Arts Fest, where 300 local artists were selling their arts and crafts. It was a lot of fun.
From there, we headed to Annapolis to secure a mooring ball before the Boat Show. We were three weeks early but we were concerned about how fast the mooring field would fill up. Our idea was to continuing exploring the region by boat. The dockmaster said to simply leave our dinghy on the ball and that would “save it.” We were not comfortable with that for overnight trips so we took advantage of the opportunity to explore Annapolis while we waited for our friends to arrive for the Annapolis Boat Show.
Annapolis is the capital of Maryland so we visited the statehouse. As it turns out, this is where General Washington resigned his commission as a general before becoming our nation’s first president. This established the precedent that the president would be a civilian and not a military man.
From here, we watched Hurricane Maria hit the BVIs, USVIs and Puerto Rico. <another sad face>
From our boat, we experienced the daily parade of boats. In Annapolis, high school students sail every afternoon on 420s. On weekends, the little guys and girls sail prams. While we were there, the Eastport Yacht Club hosted the 505 World Championships with boats and sailors from many countries. The US Naval Academy midshipmen race Lasers with other universities. Add to that the many sailboats and powerboats going by at all hours. It was a lovely sight being in such a busy harbor.
On October 5, friends started arriving for the Annapolis Boat Show. Mike and Angel Ganey came aboard and stayed with us for eight days. Jimmy and Sondra Lee stayed in a local B&B. Also attending were Ivor and Lynn Groves and Steve and Mary VanSciver. We had a great time at the show, looking at boats, talking to vendors, meeting bloggers we know from the internet and drinking gin at the Hendrix Gin tent. We also sampled rum at the Papa’s Pilar tent. (right!?!)
On our last day in town, we toured the US Naval Academy. It was a treat to tour this college campus, called a yard, and to learn about the academic lives of these midshipmen and future naval officers.
Each step of the way, we were missing our friends Philip and Jackie Werndli. Scott and I have attended four boat shows in nine years and they were with us for the first three. We raised our glasses several times to toast Phil.
After the show, we headed with the Ganeys to St. Michaels on the eastern shore of Maryland. We were disappointed that we didn’t have time to explore (this was our fault) but we went to dinner and had a great time walking around their waterfront area.
From there, we headed back across the bay to Solomons Island. West Marine generously delivered two batteries for installation in SV Island Time. Think BOAT buck plus. For our non-boater friends, BOAT is an acronym for Break Out Another Thousand. <ouch!>
While there, we walked over to the Calvert Marine Museum and spent several hours checking it out. They have an otter exhibit with three otters that is adorable. You can watch them on the Otter Cam 24 hours a day. Over all, this museum is very well organized and features a lot of information in an entertaining way.
Scott caught some upper respiratory crud so he spent two days sleeping. Mike and Angel rented a car and headed to the airport. <sad face>
When Scott felt better and the weather was good, we headed south, gunk-holing back to Hampton Roads and the start of the ICW in Norfolk. From here, we’ll make our way back to Florida and then the Exumas, Bahamas this winter.
For now, we are taking a little detour to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Side story: everyone loves to display those little oval stickers on the back of their cars, proclaiming their favorite vacation destinations. In Tallahassee, you frequently see SGI for St. George Island. However, someone I know (who shall remain nameless), has this sticker.
OBX is for Outer Banks, North Carolina. Now I have a sticker too. <happy face>.